‘Us Again’ Writer-Director Zach Parrish On Learning To Look Forward To Life And A “Duality Of Perspectives On Aging”
Everybody gets old eventually, but Us Again writer-director Zach Parrish wants everyone to appreciate what they have in the moment. Parrish uses only dance, no spoken words, in this Disney animated short which has been shortlisted for the Best Animated Short Film category at the Oscars this year.
Us Again follows Art, an older man who has lost his sense of purpose and ignores his wife, Dot, when she tries to get him to leave the apartment and enjoy the day with her. He regrets the decision after she leaves, and walks onto the fire escape to see where she’s gone. Suddenly it begins to rain, and the rain makes him younger and gives him the confidence and ability to go out and dance with the love of his life once again.
DEADLINE: What was your inspiration for Us Again?
ZACH PARRISH: At the time of the genesis of the idea, I was in my early thirties, and I was starting to feel the aches and pains that go along with crossing that threshold. I was starting to have this new desire to have a younger version of myself again, which obviously 30 is not very old. But I talked to my mom about it, she was in her early sixties at the time, and she was always talking about all the cool stuff that she was gonna do when she grew up. And it really made me see how different our perspectives were on age. By my own definition, I was old because I was looking backwards and, by her definition, she was young because she was looking forwards. The duality of perspectives of aging, I think we have just felt like that was something to dip into. And so, I started thinking about these “fountain of youth” ideas and very quickly landed on the idea of this couple who become young in the rain and get to have this one night out dancing.
DEADLINE: And how’d you come up with a world where dancing replaces speech and becomes its own language.
PARRISH: That came from trying to think about our main character, Art, as this guy who isn’t sure if he belongs in this world anymore. It felt like if we created a world that was entirely one of dance, where it isn’t something that you go and do, but how you do everything then wouldn’t that make him feel even more on the outside? Wouldn’t he feel even more like he doesn’t belong? So, then we could really use that the dance to illustrate the spirit of youth that lives in the world around him, and really elevate the kind of exaggeration of the world and put him in more contrast with it.
DEADLINE: What was the best feedback you’ve gotten?
PARRISH: I would say I’ve had a lot of older people, like my mom, who have said that it really captured how they felt about their own lives and their perspectives and how much they felt like they still wanted to get out there and do things. And then there were some people who said that it inspired them to talk to their grandparents differently or to ask their grandparents questions or their parents questions. And that was kind of a hidden agenda from the beginning of this thing. I really wanted kids, especially, to walk away from this film and look at their grandparents differently and realize, “Oh, they were young like me once. And they had these thoughts and these ambitions and these insecurities.” I wanted them to contextualize their grandparents that way because I didn’t process my grandparents that way until they had passed. So, hearing people getting emotional and hearing people thinking about their grandparents in that way, it was really cool.